12 Questions for Choosing a Pharmacy

by Susan Evans

When choosing a pharmacy, you want one that will be able to meet your needs: prescription and non-prescription meds, competitive pricing and convenient location.

You also want a pharmacist who will take the time to counsel you at every visit, answer your questions and hold the same beliefs that you do regarding your medications.

WHN TIP – Keep It Together! Getting all your meds from the same location means your medication information will be easier to track. This will help you, your doctor and pharmacist better manage your medications and overall health.

These 12 questions will help you select one that fits your needs and your budget!

  1. Is the pharmacy conveniently located to your home and/or work?
  2. What about the hours? Is the location open late or have 24-hour service? Open on weekends and holidays? Offer home delivery service?
  3. In an emergency, is there an after-hours service or number to call? What are the costs of an after-hours service?
  4. Are the prices of the prescription and OTC meds you buy most often competitive with other pharmacies? (There can be quite a difference from one chain to another! Sites such as Easy Drug Card, Lowest Med or Drug Price Search can help you compare prices.)
  5. Does the pharmacy accept your insurance coverage?
  6. Can you open a charge account or have your credit card kept on file for convenience?
  7. What about refills: can they be scheduled to automatically refill? Do you get reminder calls, texts and/or emails? How many days in advance do you have to order refills? Is the refill service automated or do you talk to a staff member?
  8. Is the pharmacy staff knowledgeable and helpful?
  9. What kind of training or experience does the pharmacist have in disease management?
  10. Is the pharmacist willing to answer your questions and explain your prescription and other health matters to you?
  11. How long has the pharmacist been in that location? What about his or her staff?
  12. Does the pharmacy offer any additional or special services – chronic health management, personal consultations, etc.?

Health Info to Share

Decided on a pharmacy? Provide the pharmacist with the following information:

  • Any prescription, OTC, vitamins, supplements and herbal remedies you take, including strength and dosage.
  • Any allergies you have — drug or otherwise.
  • Any problems or reactions you have had to any medications, supplements or herbal remedies.
  • Any medical problem you have, even if you’re not currently taking any medicine to treat it.

Picking up a Prescription

WHN TIP – Double-check: Before you pay, compare the name, strength and instructions with the information your doctor provided to you. Errors do occur, pointed out a report from the FDA.)

Always ask these questions. (What You Need to Know About Your Medications has more tips.)

  1. Will this medication interact with anything that I am currently taking?
  2. How often do I take this medication (“Every four hours” is NOT the same as “Four times a day”.)
  3. What are the potential side effects? Which ones are serious enough for a call?

WHN TIP – Write it Down! Write down the instructions and other information regarding your medications. This will supplement the information that is provided with your prescription.


The information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice. These tips are from doctors, nurses and people who have shared their real-life advice; always check with a doctor, pharmacist or other appropriate medical professionals you trust before making any healthcare changes.

Photo Credit: stevepb

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